Best Native Plants for Home Gardens

  • Written by Molbak’s Cindy Tyler, CHP
The benefits of growing native plants in your garden are undeniable —  they attract birds and other pollinators, are easier to get established and possess a natural beauty worthy of discovering. It’s true, many native species just don’t fit into a smaller garden. Douglas firs and western red cedars have their place but not in your tiny front yard (unless you like a lot of shade and dry soil). Fortunately there are some great alternatives to the more sizeable natives.  Native Plant Appreciation Week is April 28-May 4, so now is an ideal time to check out native trees, shrubs, ferns and perennials that might just be a perfect fit in your garden.


Mountain hemlock: Slow-growing in home gardens, it forms a pleasing, pyramidal shape, eventually reaching just 25 feet. Densely-arranged branches carry short needles, giving it a slightly brushy appearance. (SUN-PART SUN)

Vine maple: This small tree fits in just about anywhere. Its fan-shaped leaves are a refreshing bright green until fall when it puts on a spectacular color show. Mature size is variable, but it can grow 20 feet tall. It is easily pruned to minimize overall size. (SUN-SHADE)

Western serviceberry: Also called “Saskatoon,” this spring-bloomer offers many seasonal benefits. Once the white flowers have faded, small blueberry-like fruits appear,  a summertime treat for birds and people alike. (Cedar waxwings are daily visitors here at the nursery when the fruit is ripe.) Autumn brings a fiery display of colorful foliage. Grows 15-20 feet tall. (SUN)


Evergreen huckleberry: Prized for its bronzy red new growth and dainty urn-shaped white or pinkish flowers. The leaves are carried on stiff, upright stems and are pretty in floral arrangements. Tasty but tiny black berries ripen in summer and are favored by songbirds. Grows 3-4 feet tall in sun, larger in shade. (SUN-SHADE)

Pacific wax myrtle: Voted “Best Looking” in its high school class, this handsome evergreen offers dense foliage, bird-attracting berries and indispensable screening possibilities. Grows to 30’ feet but can easily be kept smaller with pruning. (SUN)

Salal: This ubiquitous, broad-leaf evergreen is such a champ! In spring, long chains of white flowers beckon native bees to help produce the black berries that follow in summer. Reaching about 3 feet tall, its glossy leaves are attractive under deciduous trees. Cut branches are a nice addition to flower arrangements. (SUN-SHADE)


Deer fern: A clump-forming evergreen that grows to 2 feet wide. It makes a beautiful accent under deciduous trees and is drought-tolerant once established. (PART SHADE-SHADE)

False solomon’s seal: It’s a welcome sight in spring when the shoots of this herbaceous perennial begin to show themselves. Delicate puffs of clustered white flowers rise to 3 feet above large, ridged leaves and are followed by red berries in summer. (PART SHADE-SHADE)

Fringe cups: This herbaceous perennial likes a damp spot away from full sun. It can quickly colonize an area with its fuzzy leaves and spikes of white flowers. (PART SHADE)

Learn more?

Join us April 27



Natural Beauty with


Native Plants

Featuring Susie Egan of Cottage Lake Gardens

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